Parents Win Extra Support for Their Daughters Needs

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Sarah Woosey

Interim Head of Education Law

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The use of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) can divide opinions but Simpson Millar’s specialist solicitors within our Education Law team have been instructed in many cases where there has been evidence of its success. Just one example of this is when we acted for the parents of a six year old girl who we will refer to as J throughout this article for the purposes of maintaining client confidentiality and privacy.

What Were The Issues Presented Where Help Was Required From Our Specialist Education Law Team?

J was six years old and had been attending a mainstream primary school academy for two years. She had been given a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with severe language and communication skills delay. Despite having an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP), her mother was concerned that she was not making the expected progress and she felt that this was because of the  EHCP in place for J failing to provide the necessary support that J required.

Through the annual review process, J’s parents had sought amendments to J’s EHCP to include an Applied Behaviour Analysis provision, as well as a personal budget in which to fund the required ABA specialist support. J had already been receiving some support through ABA outside of school and her parents had seen a marked improvement since the beginning of receiving this report. As such, J’s parents therefore considered that such support would be beneficial for J in school too.

The  Special Needs Education Co-Ordinator from J’s school attended at the annual review and confirmed to the Local Authority that the school was in support of J receiving ABA in school as they considered that it would be beneficial for her to receive. In addition to this, they felt that it could be easily provided within their school without any issues arising.

Unfortunately, however, the Local Authority did not agree with the assessment of the  school . Additionally, it appeared that they did not agree with the experience of J’s parents that the ABA that J had received so far at home would be helpful to her and would aid her further in her progression at school. The professionals involved in devising and implementing the ABA programme were also in support but despite this, the Local Authority unfortunately refused to fund such support.

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What Is Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) & How Does It Link To Autism?

Applied Behaviour Analysis more commonly referred to simply as ABA, refers to approaches that are developed from a branch of science called behaviour analysis. It involves behaviour analysists who examine the triggers and consequences of behaviour. They then assess this and develop strategies based on this information.

Child Autism UK has stated that one of the strengths of ABA for autistic children is that it can be tailored so that it is specific to each individual child. The techniques used are modern techniques which are based on the latest science and Child Autism UK in particular like to work on the values of being centred to each individual child while making progression and teaching both fun and motivating.

How Our Education Lawyers Were Able to Help

J’s mother was understandably very disappointed that the Local Authority had failed to make amendments to her daughter’s Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) following the annual review. She was disappointed that the Local Authority had simply failed to take into account the evidence available  on the need for ABA and the progress that J had made since receiving ABA at home. As such, she sought legal advice and Simpson Millar assisted her in bringing an appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal in relation to the contents of J’s EHCP.

During the appeal to the Tribunal we sought the advice of an independent ABA specialist to assess the full extent of J’s needs in addition to  the provisions necessary to fully meet and address those needs. The specialist’s conclusion was that J would require 35 hours of one to one ABA support delivered across her school week. In addition, J’s current ABA tutor was asked to provide a breakdown of costs for her support which could be used as a basis for the personal budget request. The tutor also set out what work was currently ongoing with J.

These reports, alongside an independent Education Psychology, Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language Therapy report were used to amend the contents of J’s EHCP, so that it provided an up-to-date description of J’s special educational needs, and the specified and quantified provision necessary to meet those needs. This included the much needed ABA provision which was sought. The amended working document was then provided to the Local Authority for consideration.

What was the Outcome?

Through negotiations with the Local Authority, our team were able to secure the 35 hours of one to one ABA support that had been recommended for J, along with several hours of Occupational Therapy and Speech & Language Therapy support each year. In addition, the Local Authority agreed that given J’s current ABA tutor had already build a rapport with J, that they would fund the costs of the ABA specialist through a personal budget which enabled the current tutor to continue working with J.

J’s mother was delighted that the necessary amendments to J’s EHCP were made. J is now in school receiving the ABA and specialist therapeutic support that she requires.

We find that there can still be a reluctance to agree ABA in some circumstances. The approach itself divides opinion. However, in J’s case, all of the evidence was clear that it worked for her and this is what was important. Here at Simpson Millar, we are very glad that we  were able to reach resolution for the family and for J without the need for a hearing and we are grateful that J received greatly increased provision and support across the board. The fact that J could continue to work with her existing tutor was also fantastic.

Our Education Lawyers have years of experience in dealing with cases such as this and achieving a positive outcome. We want to help you get what’s best for your child. You can contact us to find out more information on 0808 239 9764 or you can to request a call back.


Simpson Millar Solicitors. (n.d.). "EHCP Appeal." Retrieved from (Accessed December 5, 2023)

National Autistic Society. (n.d.). "Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) and Autism." Retrieved from (Accessed December 5, 2023)

UK. (n.d.). "Extra SEN Help." Retrieved from (Accessed December 5, 2023)

UK Society for Behaviour Analysis. (n.d.). "Information for Parents/Carers New to ABA." Retrieved from (Accessed December 5, 2023)

Sarah Woosey Profile Picture

Sarah Woosey

Interim Head of Education Law

Areas of Expertise:
Education Law

Sarah re-joined Simpson Millar in 2018 having previously trained at the firm before spending a number of years working for a different national firm. She has a number of years’ experience in a range of Education Law and Social Care issues and has focused particularly on getting suitable education and/or services for children and young adults with a wide range of Special Educational Needs and/or disabilities.

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